October 15, 2021 | LIFE | By Carlee Castillo | Photo by Sierra Romero

The Stanley Marketplace in Aurora presents an unassuming facade. While driving through the neighborhoods riddled with construction and standard rows of houses surrounding the business place, it’s easy to assume the GPS navigation instructed a wrong turn. However, what lies inside the building is anything but mundane. 

The Stanley Marketplace presents a wide variety of services, ranging from sushi restaurants to local boutiques. People of all ages bustle to and from each unique shop, creating a vibrant and energetic atmosphere. Located at 2501 Dallas Street in northwest Aurora, the center aims to establish a thriving community not only among their local artists and businesspeople, but also with the neighborhood.

In addition to the multitude of businesses, the marketplace also collaborates with several community outreach programs. Offering immigration resources such as the Village Exchange Center, Motus Theater, and Casa De Paz, the Stanley Marketplace aim to assist with and create a discourse around the unique challenges that face immigrants. 

All in all, the marketplace defines their objective simply through their self-made “Stanifesto”, proclaiming, “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR. LEAVE EACH PLACE BETTER THAN YOU FOUND IT. BE GOOD AND DO GOOD.” 

The marketplace also houses a unique and innovative event space, The Stanley Hangar. The space has hosted hundreds of festivities, including weddings, parties, galleries, theatrical productions, and most recently, “Van Gogh Alive; The Experience.” Offering a multi-sensory experience, “Van Gogh Alive” invites us to step into the very fabric of Vincent Van Gogh’s most prolific paintings. Upon entry, you encounter framed paintings and explanations of their relevance alongside a life-size reinvention of Van Gogh’s infamous, “Bedroom in Arles.” After stepping through a dimly lit corridor, quintessential classical music rings out as Van Gogh’s paintings swirl and dance across large-scale projectors. During the show, patrons are free to roam throughout the exhibit or remain still (seated or standing). 

The dynamic visuals of the exhibit portray Van Gogh’s artistic evolution: from his early years as a peasant painter, depicting gritty portraits of country life, to the development of his signature lofty brushwork in the South of France. The projections do not merely present Van Gogh’s journey as a painter, but as a human. Infamously, Van Gogh is known for his mental disturbances. Such troubles are elucidated in letters between Vincent and his younger brother, Theo Van Gogh, and accompany the exhibit’s demonstration.  

As is the case with most influential figures, adoration for mythology often trumps that of an artist. Van Gogh is renowned for allegedly eating yellow paint, for cutting off his ear, and for mad creation and genius. We revere the artist, Van Gogh, for his suffering, but neglect Van Gogh, the man. We commend communities for their adversities but offer nothing to assist the individuals facing them. 

“Van Gogh Alive: The Experience” and the Stanley Marketplace compliment each other wonderfully in that they both encourage genuine human connection. The exhibit inspires its audience to interact with Van Gogh in his complexity, rather than gaze upon an ideal. Similarly, the Stanley Marketplace motivates its sellers and customers to interrelate with the surrounding Aurora community. When attending, “Van Gogh Alive: The Experience,” it becomes apparent that true genius lies in connection and community. 

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